It has been an interesting last couple years in terms of the rivalry between the Michigan State Spartans and Michigan Wolverines.
Both football programs have experienced highs and lows, from bowl games to legal trouble, to an assortment of NCAA violations. All the on-field drama and off-field commotion have made the spotlight that much brighter.
Although, nothing may be shining brighter than the Spartans’ recent control in the state’s recruiting battle.
Michigan State has successfully recruited the state of Michigan’s top two football players for the 2010 and 2011 years in William Gholston and Lawrence Thomas. Both are versatile players ranked among the best in the nation on the defensive side of the ball.
While Gholston and Taylor are some of the biggest catches in Spartan football over the last 20 years, it brings up the question: How are the Spartans locally out-recruiting the Wolverines?
Maybe it has something to do with the direction each program is going.
The Wolverines have struggled mightily thus far in the Rich Rodriguez era, going 8-16 (3-13 in conference) and failing to be invited to a bowl game. And during those two seasons of futility, the Wolverines have lost back-to-back games against the Spartans for the first time since the mid-1960s.
On the other hand, Spartans coach Mark Dantonio has elevated his program and instilled a new vision of promise. He has reached a bowl game every season, and has recruited better each and every season. His victories over Michigan might have swayed some young players as well.
Who knows what most recruiters say to these talented high school athletes. They probably go on and on about the coaching staff, the current players and the facilities. Then they throw in a line like “Our campus is one of the most beautiful in the entire country,” you know, just to give that recruit the feel of a “big time” university.
Whether you believe it or not, aspiring college football players—and athletes in general—just want to win and play for a legitimate contender. And lately, Michigan State has had the upper hand in the victory department.